Posted by DrJeff on August 17th, 2009
Copyright 2009 | About this blog
This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge.
On a recent tour of CBS, I got separated from my group, got pretty lost, and ended up in a dusty storage room filled with nightmarish props that really creeped me out. In the corner I found an old envelope marked “Rod Serling’ with a script inside. Wow. I decided to turn it into a BotU Weekly Challenge and introduce a new character kinda like, well, me. (It is my Blog.)
First a word from our Sponsor—
Come back Monday, August 24. for the solution to this Weekly Challenge.
Come back Friday, August 21, for a new post “The Scale of the Solar System—A Voyage in Corpus Christi”
Submitted for your consideration, I invite you to accompany me to a Cosmic Kitchen where each entree is of galactic proportions, and ingredients are folded together with forces both unimaginable and seemingly limitless. As we enter the infinite spaces allocated for baking, a solar-system-sized pasta press has just been loaded with planet Earth, and an ejector plate has been inserted which has but a single hole in the center with an adjustable diameter. Chef Jeff has closed the massive door behind the planet, and now the only way out for Earth is through that small opening—for today’s special in the Cosmic Kitchen is Earth spaghetti.
Before pushing the unassumingly small green start button on the pasta press, the diameter of the spaghetti must be set. Once the hydraulics are engaged no adjustments can be made—for the forces at work could result in a catastrophic accident. It has happened in the past. 350,550 years ago the pasta press exploded, planet was everywhere, and the kitchen had to be closed down for cleaning by precisely 10,000,042 workers. (Note that in the Cosmic Kitchen, 42 must be included in the solution to everything).
Given the potential consequences, setting the diameter of the spaghetti required Chef Jeff to consult Cosmic Kitchen’s head chef. Her reply—adjust the diameter so that the single strand of Earth spaghetti could just stretch across the entire observable universe.
Back in the Cosmic Kitchen’s research library, with rows of workstations extending to the horizon, Chef Jeff goes on line to determine the size of the observable universe. He’s come across this before. It came up when he was asked to keep folding a humongous sheet of paper until its thickness could extend to the edge of the observable universe. He remembered the link to the web site with the answer. The diameter of the observable universe is 93 billion light-years.
Chef Jeff (originally trained as an astrophysicist, but thought cooking was more lucrative) now knows that the entire volume of Earth is to be stretched into the volume of a single strand of spaghetti that just spans the 93 billion light-year diameter of the observable universe. A quick calculation gives him the required diameter for the spaghetti.
Back at the pasta press, he transports to the ejector plate, sets the spaghetti’s diameter, and transports back to the control room where he stands ready to push the green button.
Here now the challenge—
By reading this, you have accepted an invitation to be one of the spectators in the Cosmic Kitchen’s gallery. Before Chef Jeff pushes the button, you are asked to submit your guess for the diameter of the spaghetti he will be making today. Leave your guess as a comment below.
If you are in fact brave enough to undertake the calculation before submitting your guess (and you know how to use scientific notation) then here is your hint:
What is the volume of a sphere?
What is the volume of a cylinder?
1 light-year = 9.46 x 1015 meters
After the answer is posted next week, please wait by your door for my colleagues to arrive. You will easily recognize them. They will be men in black. They will be interviewing you on the quality of this post, and will be taking notes with a rather interesting pen. Please take a close look at their pen. They will also ask you a question to see if you should receive a special gift for taking the survey. Let me help. I know what they will likely ask: “what milk product is often aged before being brought to market.” You should say “cheese.”
Answer now posted here!
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